Commendation for Gallantry
WHEN Private Marley Bird realised there was a tree preventing him from shooting his grenade launcher at the enemy, he bravely risked his life to save his mates’ by running out in the open to put a stop to the heavy fire.
Pte Bird has been awarded a Commendation for Gallantry for his heroic act which took place in the Miribad Valley on December 2, 2009 Afghanistan .
In receiving the prestigious award, which is the fourth highest honour for gallantry, Pte Bird joins an elite group of just 37 soldiers to ever receive the Commendation.
This number includes 20 executed World War II Prisoners of War, who were recently awarded Commendations posthumously for their brave efforts in trying to escape from Japanese forces.
Pte Bird said a rocket attack was launched near his platoon house by the enemy and after the soldiers reacted to the situation, they were pinned down in an embankment by heavy fire.
‘‘ We were trying to push up this embankment and we couldn’t push any further up without having to go into the open and expose ourselves,’’ he said.
‘‘ I got the order to get my 40mm grenade launcher and fire down range so I was in cover but I had to run out into the open to fire a grenade at their position.
‘‘ There was a tree in the way so I couldn’t fire it from where I was so I immediately thought, ‘ I need to get this down range’ so I just ran up the bank, ran out into the open, took fire position and shot it.
‘‘ Once it landed, there was no more fire coming from that position so we were able to get out of cover and push across the field into the bazaar and into cover again. From there we were able to push through and clear the village.’’
Pte Bird’s award was announced on Australia Day this year and he is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his Commendation.
The modest 1 RAR soldier said he didn’t expect any recognition for his actions, but was proud to receive the award.
‘‘ I know everybody says it, but I was just doing my job . . . it was a good day when I found out I was getting the award.
‘‘ Everybody was putting down cover fire and doing all-round security, the boys were there doing their job which helped out with what I had to do. I would love to go back to Afghanistan.’’